Today the May Eat Local Challenge begins. Like last year I have made some decisions about what "local" means and about how often I hope to eat within my foodshed and what will be exempted. Like last year I'm amazed at how much more a thoughtful eater this challenge makes me. In fact, I'd say that the challenge is less about who can eat 100% of their food from within their foodshed, but about becoming more thoughtful about what goes on my plate and in my mouth. Let me start with my declarations:
Using the Locavores template, "Local" is defined as food grown or produced within 100 miles of Syracuse, New York. But I'm also going to include a regional declaration as food made within the State of New York or within a few miles of its borders--including Canada, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. The goal for me is to reduce the miles that food has to travel to get to me.
How Much Will Be Local?
My am is to eat at least one totally locally produced meal each day with a growing intention toward eating as much of all my food as possible from within my foodshed.
As I learned from last year, eating 100% local is not what it's all about for me. I have grown to love coffee, a variety of spices and other things that enhance my diet and my life. But I do want to make more thoughtful choices about these imported foods so that I know their true cost. So my exemptions will include:
- Coffee and tea, but the coffee I do drink will be locally roasted and the tea, locally packaged
- Spices, sugar, olive oil (and other cooking oils) and chocolate
- ginger, currants, oats
- baking soda, baking powder, yeast
Now, because it isn't exactly harvest time here in Central New York I'm going to be relying on some foodstuffs from the pantry like strawberry jam that I canned last summer and the squash, collards, and brocolli from the freezer. Likewise, I'm not going to toss good food from the pantry or freezer if it isn't local. My motto is, if it has been in the freezer for more than a month, its local. This is not an exercise that should include food waste, so I'll eat what's on hand. That being said, I won't be purchasing many long distance products for the rest of the month.
If you're looking for inspiration, check out the Eat Local Challenge blog which is now up and running. There are folks on it from all parts of the country, including the northeast. But if you are looking to get started here are a few tips:
- Check out the list of local food sources on the left side bar--these are just some of the great, local foods that can be found in our area.
- Patronize our local farmers' markets and the CNY Regional Market. Remembering that in the case of sustainability, local trumps certified organic shipped from California.
- Try your hand a growing a little something. Herbs and lettuces are quick and easy to grow--especially in pots. They may not be ready for the May challenge, but they'll be worth waiting for.
- When you go out to eat, ask your server where the food has come from. You may be surprised to find out how little or how much is being provided by local producers. Better yet, seek out restaurants like Elderberry Pond Restuarant, Circa, and BC who rely on local producers.
That's plenty for now. If you plan on joining in, post a comment. This is always easier when you know others are hanging in there with you. Have fun and happy eating!